Pros and Cons of Hiring a Book Publicist — From Lesson 16 in the Book Marketing Workshop

by Karen Jonson

Marketing Word Collage

Marketing is the backbone and foundation of successfully selling books. Join the Indie Book Marketing Workshop to learn the ropes, promote like a pro, and sell more books.

Note: This lesson is an excerpt from the Market Your Books Smarter workshop.

Years ago I was friends with a book publicist. I saw how there was a basic process for promoting books. However, what her firm did for each author was based on one commodity — the fee. If the author paid more, they got more.

But there are other pros and cons to consider when making the decision about hiring a publicist or going it alone.

The following pro and con lists on hiring a book publicist should help you evaluate your options. This is an excerpt from the Market Your Book Smarter Workshop. The rest of the lesson includes a publicity evaluation checklist, a list of 12 key services offered by book publicists, and tips on creating your own book publicity campaign.

Reasons to Hire a Book Publicist

Here are a few reasons to hire a publicity firm to promote your book:

  • Do Publicity Right. Most authors know they need media exposure, but have no idea where to start. Generating publicity can be a complicated undertaking. You have to know which media to contact and the best times to engage with editors. Hiring a publicist takes away all of the guesswork.
  • Develop Your Message. A publicity firm can help you develop the right message or angle to use to get media attention for your book. They will examine your book and message, and pick out the angle that will maximize readers’ interest in you and your book.
  • Get the Right Message to the Right People. A good publicity firm knows how to provide the media with everything they need to conduct great interviews.
  • Established Reporter Relationships. Experienced publicists have cultivated strong relationships with the media. In some cases, these relationships help open doors that might otherwise be closed. Often a reporter will interview you or a host will book you based solely on the recommendation of a trusted publicist.
  • Media Interview Coaching. Doing interviews without guidance can be daunting. A publicist can coach you on the fine points and help you correct any missteps you might make.

Reasons to Do Publicity Yourself

Here are a few reasons to promote your book yourself:

  • Cost. Good publicists are expensive. Plus, you typically have to purchase a complete publicity package versus just choosing the services you want. What’s more, you can’t be sure you’ll make back what you spend plus make a profit on book sales.
  • Scope. You don’t have to do every single thing to publicize your book. You can pick and choose from among the many publicity tasks.
  • Timeframe. Publicists are geared to blast the media over a period of just a few months. However, as an independent author, you don’t have to execute your entire publicity campaign within a few months. You can stretch it out over the life of your book.
  • Time. You are not free from being involved in your book’s publicity when you work with a publicist. You still have to spend time providing information, reviewing and approving promotional materials, following up with the publicists, and more.
  • Availability. Publicists work with many authors and many books. Not just yours. This means you may not always get the immediate attention you want.
  • Capabilities. Many traditional book publicists are still not entirely saving about the new world of book marketing, and may miss opportunities to promote your book that you could find yourself.
  • Value. Some of the traditional services that publicists offer, like setting up book readings, are geared more for traditionally published authors. What’s more, even traditional publishers are evaluating the real impact of traditional book publicity in the evolving digital age.
  • Desire. You hate the idea of talking to the media and really just don’t want any part of it.
  • Risk. Publicity is hit or miss. You have absolutely no guarantees of success, either getting media attention or generating book sales if you do get media attention.

While it would be nice to be able to afford an experienced publicist to blast our books out into the marketplace and see what happens, typically it’s cost prohibitive for most indie authors. However, you can learn how to promote your book yourself — and still get great results if you do it right.

Note: I did take away one particularly valuable piece of advice from my book publicist friend, which works whether you hire a publicist or do it yourself: Book marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. In other words, when you plan your books promotional campaign, think long-term effort — and long-term results!


Are you ready to learn more about marketing your book smarter? Sign up to attend one of two self-paced book marketing courses: the Market Your Book Smarter Workshop and Indie Book Marketing Workshop.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rod January 20, 2016 at 10:24 am

This seems a good summary to me.


Karen Jonson January 20, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Hi Rod. Thank you! Karen


Gigi Sedlmayer January 28, 2016 at 5:38 pm

To me as well,
Have re-blogged it


Karen Jonson January 30, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Thank you Gigi! 🙂


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